2013 Ironman World Championship Photo Essay

Photos © Tony Svensson

Tuesday — As the first-timers look out the airplane window approaching the Kona airport, most expect the swaying palm trees of a sunlit and green tropical paradise. Instead, they see this desolate strip of asphalt: Queen Kaahumanu Highway, also known as Queen K.

05:35 — The 2010 winner Mirinda "Rinny" Carfrae of Australia preparing her bike in the early morning transition area.

06:47 — The bike transition area right before the age group mass swim start. Towards the upper left are the red and black banners, one for each champion. From left to right are Gordon Haller (first male winner), Tom Warren, Dave Scott (6), John Howard, Scott Tinley (2), Scott Molina, Mark Allen (6), Greg Welch, Luc Van Lierde (2), Thomas Hellriegel, Peter Reid (3), Tim DeBoom (2), Norman Stadler (2), Faris Al-Sultan, Chris McCormack (2), Craig Alexander (3), Pete Jacobs, Leanda Cave, Mirinda Carfrae, Chrissie Wellington (4), Michellie Jones, Lori Bowden (2), Natascha Badmann (6), Heather Fuhr, Karen Smyers, Erin Baker (2), Paula Newby-Fraser (8), Joanne Ernst, Sylviane Puntous (2), Kathleen McCartney, Julie Leach, Linda Sweeney, Robin Beck and Lyn Lemaire (first female winner). Pick your favorites!

07:00 — A classic shot of the age group mass swim start. In the background to the left is the church and in the center Hulihee Palace.

07:25 — The eventual men's winner Frederik Van Lierde of Belgium exiting the swim to bike transition area.

07:31 — Second-place finisher Rachel Joyce of the UK and fifth-place finisher Caroline Steffen of Switzerland transitioning out of the water, both after solid swims.

10:30 — Queen K from the ground. This shows the oldest female finisher, 78-year-old Harriet Anderson from San Carlos, CA. She is listed as "retired" in the race program and has opted to do something with the time at her disposal, like winning her age group in Kona.

10:50 — Frederik Van Lierde on the bike in the lava; notice his half-standing, aerodynamic position.

11:15 — Last year, we had a magic flute player in the lava, this year a loud rocker (he claims to be a two-time Ironman, which is likely true). Coming back from Kawaihae Rachel Joyce enjoys the entertainment. Next year, a harp or a chamber orchestra?

11:26 — Caroline Steffen showing perfect cycling form, as always.

13:37 — Frederik Van Lierde is served a cup of water at the aid station going into the Natural Energy Labs ("Nellie"). Luke McKenzie of Australia is currently a minute ahead of him.

14:10 — As the leader board shows, Frederik has passed Luke and is almost a minute ahead after exiting Nellie.

14:21 — Yes, Rinny was flying on the run. In fact, her run split was faster than the men's champion's, an Ironman first.

20:08 — Ex-professional American football player Hines Ward crosses the finish line. Said he, "Man was it tough."

00:04 — After the midnight cut-off, fire dancers at the finish line celebrate yet another successful race day put to rest. What will 2014 hold: Repeat wins by this year's champions? A surprise winner? Harriet Anderson coming back for more? Rain? Howling winds? Perfect conditions? We wait.

At the Awards the following night, 2013 Ironman Champions Mirinda Carfrae and Frederik Van Lierde hoist the "hole in the head" trophies to the roaring crowd. Winning times: Mirinda 8:52:14 (58:50, 4:58:18, 2:50:35) and Frederik 8:12:29 (51:02, 4:25:37, 2:51:18). Mirinda's was a new course record.